By Mike Steffanos
Mets 10 - A's 2
Played Sunday, June 24, 2007
The Mets took another big step towards putting this nightmarish team slump behind them by sweeping the A's behind John Maine yesterday. Although once again not blessed with his absolute best stuff, Maine managed to keep Oakland at bay by being a pitcher. His slider continues to get better and better, and he is using his third pitch -- the changeup -- effectively.
Pitching with an expanding lead (1-0 after 1, 2-0 after 2, 4-0 after 3, and 5-0 after 4), Maine did what he has done effectively all this month -- throw strikes. In pitching 7 innings without issuing a free pass, John Maine dropped his walk rate per nine innings to 1.1 for the month of June. He's not throwing it down the middle, either. His hit rate for the month is 7.4/9. His ERA for the month is 3.03. The strikeouts have gone down somewhat, too, but it's hard to argue with the results. He improves as a pitcher before our eyes.
|John Maine (Last 5 Starts)|
|Season (15 Games)||94.0||30||30||75||78||38||10||2.87||1.20||10-5|
Two beleaguered relievers pitched scoreless innings in relief of Maine. Guillermo Mota has looked better of late. With a mid-90s fastball still in his arsenal, the thought that Mota's problems in the early going are related to no longer using steroids are overblown. His real problem has been with his command of his pitches. He was better yesterday, but still has work to do. Meanwhile, Scott Schoeneweis not only pitched a scoreless ninth, but he didn't even allow a baserunner. Innings like that have been few and far between for the southpaw in the first 3 months of the season.
Offensively, the team kept pressure on Oakland all game, which was really nice to see. Reyes' speed earned the club a 1-0 lead, and they kept tacking on. At the end of the game when the A's tried to climb back in the game they showed the killer instinct in putting it away. Reyes continues to be the catalyst, but he's got plenty of company. Wright continues to look like the pre-Home Run Derby hitter we all grew to love. Jose Valentin seems to be finding his stroke. Carlos Gomez continues to make a case for avoiding a return flight to the Big Easy. I made the point when I was on MetsBlog's Mets TalkRadio that I love the confidence he has in himself. He's raw as hell, but refuses to get down on his ability.
It would be silly to say at this point that the club has shaken all of their woes from the previous 3 weeks. They could play a couple of bad ones against the Cards and it could go back downhill quite fast. On the other hand, there really is a different feel to things now, and that dark cloud has lifted. I'd like to see them put together a solid stretch leading into the All Star break to build off in the second half.